On 21 November, the Environment Agency is, for the first time on the River Great Ouse, releasing 750 dye-marked barbel as part of a monitoring programme.

Overall, 4,000 fish of different species are being released into the upper reaches of the Great Ouse at Radwell to restock the river. Of these, the 750 barbel have been marked with a blue dye on their bellies so they can be tracked as they move around the river system.

Not enough is known about the distribution and habits of barbel. To learn more about them, the Environment Agency is working with local angling clubs so that when anglers reel in a dye-marked barbel, they can report the details of their catch. 

James Hooker, an Environment Agency Fisheries Officer, said: “This is the first time we have used dye to track barbel on the Great Ouse. 

“The fish suffer no ill effects and with the support of clubs like Vauxhall Angling Club, we expect to get a fuller picture of barbel habits and behaviour.”

The Agency is asking anyone catching a barbel with a blue spot on its belly to photograph it and send the photo with the time, date and location of the catch to James Hooker.

This information will help plot how far they have moved, how long they live and will go to support a three year study into the future prospects for barbel on our local rivers (announced two weeks ago).

Dave Maple, from Vauxhall Angling Club, said: “This is fantastic news. We really appreciate the Environment Agency’s help and support with the restocking. 

“Our members will be only too pleased to help with the barbel monitoring as we all want healthy rivers with healthy fish populations.”

All 4,000 fish – including chub, dace and roach – have been reared at the Environment Agency’s national fish farm at Calverton in Nottinghamshire.